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Seven signs your process improvement initiative is failing

31 augustus 2011

Many companies start the process excellence journey with a bang, says Debashis Sarkar, but fail to sustain the gains. Sarkar, author and Asia's pioneer in Lean for services, looks at the causes of failure, details the seven signs that your process improvement initiative is dying and suggests the characteristics essential to a healthy process improvement culture.

Debashis Sarkar: "It’s very difficult to generalize because it’s so specific to an individual company. But one thing that I’ve seen over the course of my time in operational excellence is that many companies start the process excellence journey (in the garb of Lean, Six Sigma, BPM etc) with a bang. Then after a few years the initiative loses steam. After a few years the leaders don’t seem to see benefit, the organization does not seem to be interested and the process excellence teams struggles to keep its relevance. This tends to happen especially when the focus is on tools and methods, rather than on the underlying management thinking, routine and culture of the organization. The problem with many firms is that process improvement is just about doing projects; what they need is a holistic approach that has a systemic impact on the organization. As a matter of fact, to say that process improvement is a programme is not correct. That would mean that it has an end but a process intervention is a journey without an end, constantly changing its complexion as it moves along."

The symptoms of a failing process improvement journey could be many, but the common ones are:

Symptom 1: The CEO has lost interest in Process Improvement
Symptom 2: Superficial commitment by leaders
Symptom 3: Improvements Are Reported But Not Felt
Symptom 4: People are asking: “What happens after...?”
Symptom 5: PI only being done by Corporate PI teams
Symptom 6: Focused On The Tools And Not the Philosophy
Symptom 7: Using Process Improvement for Cost Cutting

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Bron: PEX Process Excellence Network